After early settlement by the Elder, Mattingly and Mitchell families in the 1820s, Derby was platted in 1835 and named after a village in Ireland. For the next 80 years it was a shipping port for farm produce and livestock, railroad ties, and hoop poles. In August 1893 much of the town burned but most of it was quickly rebuilt. The Mulzer limestone quarry closed just a few years ago. much crushed limestone was shipped on the river.

The largest log house, on the left (with two chimneys) is made of two original log buildings: The Springer House from east of Dexter, and a building from near St. Mark. They were taken apart, moved and rebuilt in 1991.